LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
When Josh Patton first started riding bikes 13 years ago, he had no idea it would lead to collegiate level competitions, a professional BMX career, multiple championships, and competitions all over the country.
Patton, 21, of East Bernstadt started riding just for fun. He never imagined that cycling would lead him to where he is today.
“When I was younger, there was a BMX track here in London. I used to go all the time when I was a kid. Even though the track went a way, I stuck with it.”
Patton is ranked as a down hill expert and a 4X and Dual Slalom professional. He is currently ranked No. 1 in the nation in 4X and Dual Slalom and expects to race anywhere between 15 to 20 races this year.
Additionally, Patton, a senior at Lindsey Wilson College, is part of the school’s cycling team, which participates in the same type of races that he races in his BMX career.
“Cycling with my team at Lindsey is just like my other races, but they’re on a collegiate level,” Patton said. “The atmosphere is awesome. We get to travel from Aug. to Oct.”
This weekend, Patton participated in the Gravity East Series race number 3 at Swain Mountain Motocross, N.Y., where he placed third in the expert category, ages 19 to 29. Patton said it takes months to prepare for a race like that.
“Training for races is done on long-term scales,” Patton said. “Every day is broken down to very specific detail. I know what I’m going to be doing a month from now.”
Patton said although he plans his training in advance, sometimes things change.
“I’ll make changes based on the course that I’m going to be racing, muscle progression, things like that. It’s best to prepare for specific races as they come.”
For the New York race, Patton followed his typical training regiment.
“For this race (I did) nothing off the normal riding and weight schedule,” Patton said. “The weeks (leading) up to the event, I have to make sure I am getting full nights of rest, have been eating well and staying clear of any injury.
“My diet is typically very healthy,” Patton continued. “I try to avoid fast food and grease as much as possible.”
Unfortunately, there aren’t many places locally for Patton to practice for races.
“Practice is a bit hard in Kentucky for this level of racing,” he said. “I have a secret training spot that has a very short practice course that I frequently ride. It’s nowhere near the length of a full downhill course, but it’s something to ride so I can keep up with my skills.”
Patton’s races require an intense training regiment in order for him to remain competitive. Although Patton’s favorite type of race, downhill — better known as “Gravity” — only takes less than a minute to complete, it requires both leg and upper body strength to power and steer the bike while moving at such fast speeds.
Patton said in a sport like BMX, injuries are commonplace regardless of how much training and preparation you have.
“Eventually you just learn to crash,” Patton said. “You just have to get back up and keep going.”
Patton said he has never broken any bones in a crash, but he has suffered sprains, concussions and muscle tears. But to him, the bruises and scratches are all part of the excitement of BMX racing.
“There is a lot that keeps me coming back,” Patton said. “I love to ride and race my bike. You get a mixture of adrenaline, fear, fatigue and so much more out of racing and it’s addicting. The threat of injury is there, but as a racer you know that, so you put that in the back of your mind and let yourself enjoy your bike. I love the fact that bicycling is allowing me to see the country, travel and make friends all over the world.”
Patton’s next race is in Windham, N.Y. on June 29 through June 30.